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On April 29, 2008, Disney re-issued Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros in a 2-Movie Classic Caballeros Collection DVD. Offering minimal improvement (mostly aesthetic) over the films' original Gold Collection DVDs, the new disc nonetheless replaces the now-discontinued earlier versions and at the low list price of $19.99.
Click here to buy the Classic Caballeros Collection DVD from Amazon.com, click here to read our complete review, or read on for a full critique of Saludos' out-of-print Gold Collection disc.

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Movie - 1943, Not Rated, 42 minutes, Disney;
Genre - Animation, Musical, Documentary
Cast - Voices of Clarence Nash, José Oliviera, Fred Shields, and Frank Graham
Directors - Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson,
Hamilton Luske, Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts
DVD - 1.33:1 fullscreen (original ratio), Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English, Spanish), subtitles - English; single-sided, single-layered disc; $19.99 SRP, Released 5/2/00

Movie - After releasing five largely wonderful feature films within a span of just 5 years, Walt Disney and company changed gears altogether with 1943's Saludos Amigos, the first of the so-called "anthology films." Whereas the first five Disney films were conventional and generally-praised cinematic adaptations of stories, Saludos is a mixture of musical, comical animation and cultural documentary of Latin America.
Believe it or not, the theatrical releases of beloved classics like Fantasia and Pinocchio were not overwhelmingly profitable ventures for the studio. So changing formats and turning to Latin America served a number of purposes. The trip of Disney's artists was a regional goodwill tour, at the time of the onset of World War II. Also, lower costs made Saludos more likely to be profitable, which it was.

The final product is too long to be called a "short" and not quite long enough to be called a "feature", but nonetheless, it finds its place as the "6th Disney animated classic" on the studio's current list. With a running time of just 42 minutes (the packaging's note of 75 minutes includes a supplemental feature), Saludos is brisk and forgettable. Saludos begins with live-action footage of the Disney team of artists heading to South America, looking for inspiration from the styles and culture of the region. These sequences cover dances, geography, and the wildlife of the area, and are intermingled with four short animated sequences.

These animated sequences will appeal to those who enjoy the classic cartoon Walt Disney Treasure collections, but certainly lack the grandiose, cinematic flavor of the animated feature triumphs from the same era that are so familiar to us today. (Bambi, Pinocchio, etc.) In "Lake Titicaca," Donald Duck is a clumsy tourist who is just trying to take in the sights and sounds as the locals do. "Pedro" tells the story of a young airplane who must deliver the mail in the midst of storm, when his father takes ill. "El Gaucho Goofy" showcases the likeable klutz as an American cowboy, who becomes an Argentinian gaucho. The final piece - "Aquarela do Brasil" introduces a new, short-lived character - the South American parrot Jose Carioca - who takes Donald around Rio, to the sound of the familiar "Brazil" tune that repeatedly turns up in Terry Gilliam's 1985 satire.

Video - Saludos Amigos is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. For its age, the feature looks surprisingly good. The live action sequences exhibit a colorful vibrance not often seen from films of the '40s and the animated sequences are well-preserved, as well. It's hard to believe that the film was made 60 years ago.

Audio- The DVD's audio quality is adequate. It's plain mono, and doesn't really scream out for anything more (like a 5.1 remix) for the most part. Volume consistency isn't great, so you might find yourself raising and lowering the volume at times.
The audio isn't sparking with life, but it's serviceable and for the most part, discernable.

Extras - As mentioned earlier, the DVD's 75 minute runtime includes a 33-minute travelogue featurette, titled "South of the Border with Disney." It's pretty much exactly like the live-action sequences in the film, merely providing more thorough documentation of the Disney animators journey through the South American countries, and the societal and geographical items that inspired them. Without any animated sequences, this travelogue does pass a line into dry documentary that might annoy the easily-bored, but it's short. In addition, there is the original theatrical trailer, a fun-spirited and wise inclusion. That's all. Oh, and the dated preview trailers at the beginning of the disc.

Closing Thoughts - It's difficult to classify Saludos Amigos as a film, or even give it a strong recommendation to check out or pass on. One important negative to note is that the film has been edited. Specifically, a scene where Goofy once enjoyed a cigarette is now without carcinogenic inhalation. The edit seems relatively pointless, as if children watching a 60-year-old hybrid of documentary and animation will start lighting up because Goofy did in one scene, but it's very minor. If you want to pass on this because of the edits, presumably, it would be out of principle, rather than a firm objection to the content removed.

In closing, Saludos is brisk and more enjoyable than the similarly-themed Three Caballeros (1945). It's difficult to compare to Disney's feature films, since it's so different, and far less memorable and satisfying. Nonetheless, if you'd like to pick it up for a complete animation collection, at least this DVD features commendable A/V quality, a nice companion featurette, and a reasonably low (for Disney animation, anyway) SRP.

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The Ultimate Guide to Disney DVD Home
Complete Animated Classics List

Related Reviews:
Saludos Amigos & The Three Caballeros: Classic Caballeros Collection
The Three Caballeros (1945) • Bambi (1942) • Dumbo (1941) • Make Mine Music (1946)
Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Volume 1 • Melody Time (1948)
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) • Fun and Fancy Free (1947)

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